I’ll be honest – I thought this technique was dead. I like to think that my finger is on the pulse of my profession nonstop, 24/7/365. Surely THIS old, hackneyed technique would be dead as a doornail, right? You would think. As educated and savvy as buyers have become, and as much information is available to them, there’s really no excuse for salespeople to continue to think that this old saw would still cut.
Then it happened. I was buying a piece of equipment for my garage (as I am wont to do), and the salesman said, “And if you’ll buy now, I’ll knock $50 off!” I was actually ready to buy the thing, and I didn’t even need the discount. But as much as I’m a car guy, I’m always The Sales Navigator. And I couldn’t help myself. This was on a Friday. I replied, “So, if I come back Monday and I’m ready to buy, cash in hand, you won’t give me the $50 off?”
The salesman’s jaw dropped and he said, “uhhhh…..uhhhh.” As salespeople are wont to do when a customer hoists them by their own petard. Like it says in the video, I was there, but only once. I had the feeling this wasn’t this guy’s first time, which made it worse. I smiled, gently explained to him what I do, and told him that he might try a different technique. And then, since I wanted the equipment, I went ahead and bought.
How could he avoided this? There are a few ways:
- Understand the customer’s priorities. A sale happens when there is a need, a solution, and the timing is right. Any one of those three components can derail your sale. Even if your solution truly does address the customer’s need, if that need isn’t the highest priority for the customer, the timing won’t be right. Asking good questions to understand the priorities is the best way to understand timing.
- Ask time-frame questions early. You should ask your time-frame questions well before you attempt to close the sale. Your questions should be centered around the desired time of delivery or use, not around the timing of the decision itself. When customers make a buying decision, they want immediate gratification; if that isn’t possible, it’s on you to let them know.
- Ask checking questions. Never assume things. Don’t assume that the need you are trying to solve is an important need to the buyer. Don’t assume that they agree that your solution works.
- Ask the customer how they see a gain in buying. This is a great pre-proposal question; if the customer has a good answer, they are basically selling your product or service back to you. If they don’t have an answer? You’ve missed something.
- Listen. This should be obvious, but listen to the answers you’re given, and act on them. Respect your customers and their intelligence.
“Buy now or the deal can’t happen” is stupid selling. We can fix stupid. Don’t be that guy. Come up with other ways to get the sale moving that don’t require dishonesty, and you will be more successful